Author Topic: *Spoilers* About the name bargaining power - current alpha testers only, please.  (Read 1680 times)

Offline x4000

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Not to exclude anyone, but I like to collect fresh impressions and I can't do that if you've read threads like this in advance. :)


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So, the name "bargaining power" is only so descriptive, and it's a bit easy to confuse with influence if you are new to the game.

Bargaining Power: This is the amount of current political clout, or favors you can call in, or in general social currency you have, at any given time.  You gain this as you do missions, and you cash it in in exchange for things you want later on.  Typically for political deals, but sometimes in a barter sort of fashion.  It is not money, as you are not paying anyone off.  This doesn't buy you goods or anything like that.  Rather... it convinces people to do things.

As Keith put it at one point (to paraphrase), it's "the number of kneecaps you can break at the moment."  To some degree BP represents the amount of respect you've gained -- but from that angle cashing it in and then earning it again doesn't work.  In a lot of ways it does represent your "political capital," but that sounds really odd and it's not just something you use in politics.  You can use BP to convince mercenaries of stuff, and you can use BP earned with one race to convince another race of stuff.

In a very very real sense, it's that sort of barter system of "you do this for me, and I can get you what you want, because I know a guy" sort of system.  That's what this is representing, just in an abstract way.  Your computer handles the details of getting what the other party wants, let's say -- you just see the number.

Changing this to money would be simpler in some ways, but I think it sends the wrong message.  That would make sense for dealing with the mercenaries, but when you're convincing governments to do this or that, it makes less sense.  I don't want this to be like you're bribing government officials -- there's already a mechanic for that, anyway.  This is rather more like lobbying, minus the bribery part that can go with that.  (Although, some of the "pork barrel" deals actually kind of do mirror what this represents, in some ways).

So one big thing that this could be called is Favors.  Or really, Favor Points, though that sounds odd.  Though not as odd as having 506 Favors gained from a mission, and then spending 2000 favors to get the Skylaxians to do something. ;)  And having the Skylaxians or whoever do things for you as a "favor" seems a bit too pacifist.  You're negotiating with them to do stuff, really.  So Negotiation Power might actually be a really good name for this, now that I think about it.  That basically says the same thing as Bargaining Power, but without sounding like Influence... sort of.

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So, what is Influence?  If you're not fully up on that, it's basically a -100 to 100 meter that rates how much general... influence... you have with a race.  It's how well they think of you, and how much they are willing to listen to you, practically speaking.

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While we're at it, Attitude is kind of the inter-race version of Influence.  It's a unidirectional thing where each race has a -100 to 100 scale of how it feels about each other race, regardless of how the other races feel about them.  You might hate me, but I actually like you.  Until you declare war, after which I hate you some, and you burn with fury.  Etc. 


My feeling is that both attitude and influence are extremely aptly named and are easy to explain; I don't have any expectations of changing those terms.  Bargaining Power might wind up staying in the end, but since it is something that is conceptually complex, and since it sounds like influence in some ways, I thought I'd pick your respective brains and see what you thought.

So... thoughts? :)
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Offline mrhanman

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Would Prestige be a better fit?

Offline Misery

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The term seemed pretty obvious to me, though I guess I can see where some might get confused on it.

I cant think of any suggestions on what to call it though....

Offline YoukaiCountry

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I am much less confused after reading this!
Influence almost feels like it could be called 'standing', 'favor', or "reputation".
As it is, "Influence" could be taken to mean roughly the same thing as bargaining power: The amount of power to affect their actions, which is what you are doing when you use BP.

Another idea would be to unify attitudes and influence: Just add another attitude for each race, which is the value that used to be influence. This could be a tidy solution, making it somewhat more intuitive. Maybe you could use "attitude towards you" in places a descriptive title for it would be called for.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2014, 11:42:56 PM by YoukaiCountry »

Offline Professor Paul1290

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I guess as mentioned already "prestige" might work if bargaining power is somewhat confusing.

"Reputation" also might work. On the political side reputation could fit and as far as hiring mercenaries go you can justify it by saying mercenaries like to join someone who they think would be successful.

Offline windgen

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unify attitudes and influence: Just add another attitude for each race, which is the value that used to be influence. This could be a tidy solution, making it somewhat more intuitive. Maybe you could use "attitude towards you" in places a descriptive title for it would be called for.

I like this idea.  How about renaming the -100 to 100 score currently called "influence" to "Skylaxian attitude toward you", and renaming the spendable-political-currency thing currently called "BP" to "influence"?

The word "Influence" can be interpreted to mean "your ability to affect others' future actions."  Moreover, the word's connotations mean it could be a result of any combination of diplomacy, under-the-table favors, gratitude for past actions, or implicit threats.  And that sounds like exactly what the thing currently called "BP" is supposed to be about; so I'd like to suggest renaming it to "influence."

Offline orzelek

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unify attitudes and influence: Just add another attitude for each race, which is the value that used to be influence. This could be a tidy solution, making it somewhat more intuitive. Maybe you could use "attitude towards you" in places a descriptive title for it would be called for.

I like this idea.  How about renaming the -100 to 100 score currently called "influence" to "Skylaxian attitude toward you", and renaming the spendable-political-currency thing currently called "BP" to "influence"?

The word "Influence" can be interpreted to mean "your ability to affect others' future actions."  Moreover, the word's connotations mean it could be a result of any combination of diplomacy, under-the-table favors, gratitude for past actions, or implicit threats.  And that sounds like exactly what the thing currently called "BP" is supposed to be about; so I'd like to suggest renaming it to "influence."

This was my first interpretation I came up with this. After some reading I needed to review it a bit ;)

Offline jerith

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Note: In the interests of keeping my opinion uninfluenced, I haven't read any replies to this thread before posting.

The difference between Attitude and Influence feels a bit artificial to me -- they both represent how one race feels about another. It's also a little confusing that Influence has the opposite directionality from Attitude, especially on the race relations diagram where it looks like Influence is your opinion of them. Bargaining Power, on the other hand, if all about the leverage you have (not to be confused with Leverage) and the favours you can call in.

I think it would make sense to fold Influence into Attitude and have the player just be one more entity that the various races have opinions about. I think "Influence" is a slightly better name than "Bargaining Power" for the sort-of-currency that can be earned and spent, but neither of them seems to capture the intent of the system perfectly.

Offline jerith

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Now that I've read the other replies, I see the merging of Attitude and Influence has already been suggested. Is there a meaningful difference between the two that makes it worth having two similar but different things?

Offline x4000

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Prestige is a good term, but why does you prestige go down if you recommend a policy action to a race?  That doesn't quite make sense.

Influence could kind of work in place of bargaining power, I suppose.

The separation between influence and attitude is something that we made because they do represent subtly different things:
- Attitudes are unidirectional but mutual.  Aka, each race has an opinion of the other.  These affect how they interact with one another, but that's about it.
- Influence is completely unidirectional, and not mutual.  Aka, it is emanating from you, and it's your ability to get other races to listen to you.  The higher your influence with them, generally the more options are open to you with them, and the less bargaining power is typically required.

I don't know, I'm almost thinking the names should stay the same, at this point.
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Offline jerith

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The separation between influence and attitude is something that we made because they do represent subtly different things:
- Attitudes are unidirectional but mutual.  Aka, each race has an opinion of the other.  These affect how they interact with one another, but that's about it.
- Influence is completely unidirectional, and not mutual.  Aka, it is emanating from you, and it's your ability to get other races to listen to you.  The higher your influence with them, generally the more options are open to you with them, and the less bargaining power is typically required.

I think the non-mutuality of Influence is due to one side of the relationship being the player. I make my own decisions about how much I like each race and how I'm going to deal with them -- the game shouldn't tell me who I want to be friends with.

From your description in this thread, it seems like Influence could include factors like intimidation, which would cause a race to behave more favourably toward you without requiring them to like you. Nothing I've seen in-game indicates this, although it's possible that I'm just not in a position for that kind of thing to have an effect.

Offline x4000

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Oh, it absolutely does include factors like intimidation.  It's how much power you have over them for sure, not just their attitude towards you.  It also includes things like the fact that you've been bribing them well, or they like your style in bullying others.  That doesn't necessarily mean they like you per se, but they do respect you for it, or at any rate are more willing to deal.
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Leverage?
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Offline Histidine

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A bit of a necro; is this still of interest? If not, pardon me.

As Chris highlighted, I don't think Prestige, Standing, Reputation or such really work (except if you append "points" to the end). They're sort of good for telling you how to earn the thing you use ingame, but unlike something like money, concepts like your social standing are more a state of being that a fluid asset like currency for which the term "spending" is meaningful. For the same reason, I think the "power" suffix doesn't fit.

On the flip side, while I'm partial to Favor or Negotiation (Points/Credit) - they tell you exactly what you can do with them - it's not always obvious how "I just blew up three pirate armadas without anyone specifically bringing it up" would necessarily improve how likely people are to negotiate with or do favors for you. The current term, Bargaining, also suffers from this problem.

The best I can come up with, aside from Keith's Leverage, is "Diplomatic Credit." It handles the second point perfectly, and for the first, one only need recall the term "gunboat diplomacy" to see how a good show of force could get you more of it.

Of course, it's also possible that we're simply overthinking it, and the players will be fine once they take a few minutes to learn what it means and just remember the acronym "BP" hereafter. I mean, what on Earth does "AI Progress" mean?  :P

Offline Azurian

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Negotiations

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